Local charity, Diverse Abilities, recently held its annual Thank You Awards at the Italian Villa to acknowledge inspirational people connected to the Dorset charity that supports children and adults living with disabilities across the county.

The award categories included: volunteer team of the year; staff team that has gone above and beyond; employee achievement; the Terry Watts volunteer team of the year; individual fundraiser of the year; corporate supporter award; individuals we support that have achieved something remarkable and outstanding contribution.

Before the awards ceremony commenced, attendees enjoyed a drinks reception and canapes provided by Beales Gourmet.

Winners at the ceremony included Barrie Haynes, in the Terry Watts Volunteer of the Year category. Barrie is a fantastic supporter of Diverse Abilities and volunteers much of time to help the charity raise funds. Nothing is ever too much for Barrie and last year he contributed over 50 hours to Diverse Abilities by bucket collecting and volunteering at events. Barrie is an asset to the charity and is renowned for his ability to bucket collect at a supermarket and raise more than £300 in one time.

Several people the charity supports across its services also won awards, including Colin and Eiden.

Colin visits the charity’s adult centre and helps at its café every Wednesday. He washes up all day and it is very hard to get him to take a break as he is so passionate about it. At the end of the day, Colin likes to mop the café kitchen floor so that he knows it’s been done properly!

Eiden attends Langside School and when he first started he was two and a half. He had a real character – always wanting to explore new sensory toys using his feet instead of his hands. He was unable to sit up unsupported so would lie on the floor holding toys up to feel using his toes, but it was clear to see how strong he was right from the start and his determination and fight for independence has stayed with him throughout many hospital stays and ill health. He has come back to school, often very weak but has battled through all the bad times. He has now learnt to sit up, unsupported and likes to bottom shuffle across the floor and stand up alone and over the last few months, he has been able to walk holding onto a little trolley. The whole team at Langside are so proud of this young man and all that he has achieved in such a small amount of time. The charity can’t wait to see how much more he will achieve at our school!

This year there were also two new extra special awards.

One was presented to Christine and Tony Bueno, who kindly offered the use of their home, Hammoon House, for an awareness raising event. The event not only allowed Diverse Abilities to meet some fantastic people from Dorset but, although the aim of the event was not to raise funds, the event achieved donations of £8,000.

The other special award was the CEO superstar award. This was presented to teenager Josh Emery, the eldest brother to triplets Harvey, Gabriel and Daniel who attend Langside School. Having observed Josh with his brothers on many occasions Diverse Abilities felt that there are not many individuals of his age that would be so selfless in their support for family.  Always putting others needs before his own, going above and beyond what any teenager would do for their siblings. Watching his brothers’ faces light up and giggle whenever he is around shows a real bond between them.  He is not just a big brother but an inspirational role model to others.

Mark Powell, CEO of Diverse Abilities, said: “We see the great job that our staff do day-in day-out, how committed our volunteers and supporters are to the charity and the achievements that the people we support accomplish. We are very proud of everyone and congratulate everyone that was nominated for an award.”

Other winners of the awards included:

  • Volunteer team of the year – J.P. Morgan
  • Staff team that has gone above and beyond – the supported living team at Lulworth Cottage
  • Employee achievement award – Jennifer Parfitt
  • Individual fundraiser of the year – Mike Jefferies
  • Corporate supporter award – John Christopher, Trinity Architecture
  • Individuals we support that have achieved something remarkable – Carole, Lindsay, Elaine, Dominque, Ashley, Greg, Ian, Marilyn, Beth, Kieron, Graeme and David
  • Outstanding contribution – Clare Rochford.

A special thank you was also given to Andy Harrop, who has volunteered hundreds of hours to Diverse Abilities in his role of trustee and chair of trustees for the past eight years.

For more information regarding Diverse Abilities and how you can get involved to further the support the charity’s vital work in Dorset, please visit www.diverseabilities.org.uk